The first time I was asked to do Lion’s Breath in a yoga class, I thought it was the silliest idea ever. Instead of sticking my tongue out, I “faked” it by modestly parting my lips and letting out a big sigh, inwardly rolling my eyes at the uselessness of what I was doing. In all the classes I’ve been to, with many different teachers across many yoga lineages, I’ve never been to a class where the teacher explains why we do this posture and how it improves our quality of life.
However, now that I know besides assisting us in digestion and speech, the tongue plays an important role in the Deep Front Fascial line identified by Thomas Myers, my rolling eyes have a different view. Did you know that this fascial line connects the tongue to our lungs, diaphragm, quadratus lumborum, psoas major, iliacus, knees, and even all the way down to our feet? What would happen if the tongue were contracted and overworked after a day of discussing and dining? Would it affect our breathing? Absolutely! The next time when you’re holding Plank (or Serratus Plank) longer than you’d like to, notice what happens to your tongue. A fun test: try to extend your tongue out while lowering down to chatturanga. You will find it very difficult because, as a part of our integrated core, the tongue will also engage when the tubular core is engaged.
Even though not mentioned in our Yoga Tune Up® Level 1 training, these Yoga Tune Up® poses should include our unsung hero, the tongue, as an agonist: Tubular Core, Serratus Plank, and Pin the Arms of the Yogi; and as an antagonist: Cobra at the wall, Danurasana with blanket, and, last but not least, Ustrasana. Finally, feel free to stick your tongue out at yogi friends more often to release and balance out the stress we have put on this amazingly influential and strong muscle.